Monday, 17 February 2014

Breastfeeding in Public in Korea

Updated 5 September 2016

I was recently asked what Koreans think about breastfeeding in public. I have to say that only once have I had an issue with it. I have no qualms about breastfeeding in public and have done so on the subway, bus, and even walking down the street cradling my daughter when she was sleeping. My daughter's almost 2 and a half and I'm still breastfeeding. In Korean age she's 4 and I think that some Koreans believe that breastfeeding until Korean age 2 is ok, but after that it's not.

Breastfeeding Lounges
Many department stores, immigration offices, some restaurants, as well as some train stations will have breastfeeding lounges. They can run from basic to very nice. They'll have things such as changing tables, microwaves, fridges, cribs, wipes, and even scales. Here's a map of breastfeeding lounges throughout Seoul. This is not a complete map.

Problems with Breastfeeding in Public
Which brings me to the one time I have had an issue with breastfeeding in public. We were on the subway and I started to breastfeed her and an old lady asked how old she was and I said she was 3. She proceeded to do the flapping hand thing and say something about age 2. So I did the flapping hand thing as well and told her to go away. She in Korean and me in English. I don't understand Korean, but I'm pretty sure the jist of it was that my daughter was too old to breastfeed according to her. Even though I nursed my daughter until she was almost 4 (western), I did it less and less in public as she got older.

Koreans are Open to Breastfeeding
Many older people will actually tell you to breastfeed. I remember being on the subway when she was a baby and them telling me that she was hungry and that I should feed her. I've also been assisted by a random ajumma in the sauna with latching. It can be annoying, all the unwanted advice you get. It's just cultural. They do it to Koreans as well. They're trying to help and they mean well.

I have found that nursing seems to be more talked about with the older generation. And by that, I've found that they want to give you advice. But that might be a generation gap issue with older people offering more advice in general, ex, your baby's too cold, or too hot, or too whatever. 

There are nursing rooms in subway stations, department stores, zoos, kids' cafes, immigration offices, and even some of the new subway trains have them. They're very nice, some have multiple rooms with changing areas, nursing areas, sink, microwave, etc. Some are more basic and just have a table and chair.

Koreans' Reactions to Breastfeeding
I know that some women try to cover up and use nursing covers. Those seem to work for the first couple of months and then babies want to see what's going on and will push it off. There are other options, such as nursing in a wrap or carrier, or using your hand or scarf to cover up a bit. Just like you wouldn't like eating under a blanket, many babies don't like it either.

I've heard of some good come back from women who are told to cover up. Some are nicer than others. One of my favorites is when I woman is offered a blanket and she tells the person thanks, but she doesn't need it and they're welcome to use it to cover their eyes if they'd like to.

I have never, ever been stared at. When people realize you're breastfeeding they tend to divert their eyes and look away. There are many, many articles about breastfeeding in public, or nursing in public (NIP) out there. Here's one from Double Think called Every Argument about NIP Debunked. It has photos, so you might not want to view it at work. I personally like the warrior photo.

Breastfeeding Legalities: legally during the first 12 months after giving birth you are either allowed to come an hour late, leave an hour early, or given an hour to pump at work. Here is some useful links. All docs are from 2011.
The Acts for Equal Employment have all maternity, paternity, and childcare laws. However, laws are not always followed here. You may be given a closet to pump in or told to go to the bathroom.



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Tender Embrace Birthing offers childbirth, breastfeeding, and newborn care classes and support.


Monday, 3 February 2014

HypnoBirthing® vs Hypnobabies®

While HypnoBirthing® and Hypnobabies® both try to allow the mother and baby to have a natural, peaceful birth, there are still a few differences between the two programs. This information is based off of Birthing Naturally and Pregnancy, Birth, and Babies. For professionals who are in the process of getting advanced hypnotherapy training, check out the hypnosis and childbirth online certification.

If you're looking to take a HypnoBirthing® or Hypnobabies® course, check out the list of instructors. I don't know of anyone in Korea who teaches Hypnobabies®, but they do have a home study option.

HypnoBirthing® Pros
  • Created by Marie Mongan, M.Ed., M.Hy. in the late 1980s, it was the first course to use hypnosis for childbirth.
  • Many women say that the information that they learn in the course can be used for other parts of their lives. 
  • It's more effective for home births than hospital or clinic births.
  • Many women find that it's very helpful for them in the early stages of labor.
  • There are many HypnoBirthing® practitioners and it has a strong following. 
HypnoBirthing® Cons
  • Since it's based on the idea that childbirth should be painless, coping techniques aren't provided. 
  • Because women don't learn about pain or interventions, they are often given unnecessary interventions.
  • Benefits and risks of different birthing options are not discussed.
  • Many women find that HypnoBirthing® doesn't work at the end of their labor.
  • The course hasn't been updated since 2006. 
My conclusions about HypnoBirthing®
I do know a handful of people who have studied HypnoBirthing® and while they said that it did help at the beginning of their labor, it didn't prepare them for the end of their labor, making them feel that they had failed and had nothing to fall back on. Now this is quite normal, for women to expect one thing and get another. It's always good to have a plan and a back-up plan. The problem with HypnoBirthing® is that it only provides one plan that everyone is supposed to follow.

HypnoBirthing® has its own set of language that you have to learn. There is no pain or contractions, but rather discomfort, sensations, and waves. I think that it's good that it tries to get rid of all the painful, negative images about birthing that we've been bombarded with all our lives. I also do know that it is possible to have a peaceful, pain-free birth. However, many women experience sensations that they are not prepared to deal with. Due to this, they may end up feeling bitter about their birth experience.

Hypnobabies® Pros
  • Created by Kerry Tuschhoff, HCHI, CHt. Cl., who originally was a HypnoBirthing® practitioner and felt that the course was missing key information. 
  • They offer a home study option.
  • They use powerful hypno-anesthesia techniques (medical hypnosis, like what people have used for surgeries) such as eye-open hypnosis with the finger-drop technique.
  • Moms prefer it because it's more effective and provides a more rounded and more comprehensive view of child birthing, such as back labor and how to deal with it.
  • There's more material that is updated frequently based on feedback from people who have used their course such as consumer information, recorded material, scripts for partners, and a quick reference guide.
Hypnobabies® Cons
  • There are fewer instructors compared to HypnoBirthing®
  • Classes are longer. There are six 3-hour classes compared to five 2.5-hour HypnoBirthing® classes.
  • Home study courses  aren't the same as having an actual teacher.
  • It's a relatively new course, so there's less information about it. 
  • Some people say that it strongly resembles HypnoBirthing®.
My conclusions about Hypnobabies®
I think that Hypnobabies® is much more comprehensive than HypnoBirthing®. They teach about stages of labor and what coping techniques can be used for each stage. They compare expectant management to what active management techniques that many doctors use. They give women facts and allow them to pick and choose what they like to create their own birth plan. They recognize that different women want different things.

The fact that they also offer a home study course makes it a better option for people in Korea who may not be able to attend face-to-face classes with an instructor. Hypnobabies® recognizes that they don't have all the answers and due to that they use their customers' feedback to update the course.

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Tender Embrace Birthing offers childbirth, breastfeeding, and newborn care classes and support.


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